I've been asked to lecture on some of my games versus grandmasters at the Knoxville Chess Club tonight. I'm going to talk about 3 games (Wojtkiewicz(1989), Serper, and Lein) and post them to my GM games section later this week. Hope to see you all there.
The recently concluded Frankfurt Chess Festival gave another opportunity to see how close programmers are coming to the predictions that a computer will be able to defeat all the top players in the future. I've noticed that in recent years the prediction has changed from "within 25 years" (which was the prediction for about 40 years 8-) to "5-10 years". So maybe they are getting closer, but I think the results showed that we humans still have some good years left.
There were two man versus machine exhibitions in Frankfurt. In the first, five of the top six players in the world (Kramnik, Shirov, Anand, Leko, and Morozevich) took on the program Fritz running on a high speed German computer. These were two game matches with a time control of 25 minutes per side, which greatly favors the computer. Still, the humans managed an even score with Kramnik and Leko scoring +1 =1, Shirov scoring +1 -1, and Anand and Morozevich going =1 -1. The most striking game with Shirov-Fritz. Instead of the "anti-computer" strategy which worked well for Leko, Shirov stayed true to his style and went for complete chaos. While this is not supposed to work well versus computers since they usually eat all your material and find a way to beat off the attack, it didn't work here as Fritz went down.
The other exhibition was Artur Yusupov playing Fritz two games of Fischer random chess. In the Fischer random variant the pieces are shuffled along the first rank in the starting position, so opening preparation goes out the window. Fischer's idea is that computers will play much weaker without their opening book. The problem is, so do humans. At least at this point, when "opening theory" only consists of principles from regular chess, I think humans are at a distinct disadvantage. If this variant grows in popularity, I think that different principles may develop. For example, right now, I would say that no one (well, maybe Fischer) has decided on what the best way to develop a bishop on b1 is. Should it come out with a3 and Ba2 or by a push of the c-pawn. Yusupov had to work these questions out with the clock ticking in positions he had never seen before and went down 0-2 (although he declined a draw late in the second game saying the crowd wanted blood). Overall, it is good to see the Fischer variant get played. I hope we get to see it some more with both computers and humans versus humans.
The next matchup between man and machine will occur in July at the Dortmund Chess Festival where the commercial program Junior will be playing in the top section at regular time controls. Since the GMs held their own at the shorter time limit, I'm going to stick with my prediction that Junior finishes last. There is also a rumor being floated that Garry Kasparov will play Fritz on a supercomputer sometime in the future. I think Kasparov should be a heavy favorite in such a match. For one thing, he'll want to erase the stigma of the loss to Deep Blue. Second, since Fritz his a commercial program, he'll have the opportunity to play hundreds of games against it prior to the match, so he can study its weaknesses and steer games towards positions that Fritz plays poorly.
I bounced back from maybe my worst result of the year (Tennessee 2000) with probably my best result of the year by tieing for first in the Kentucky Open this past weekend. I had 3 wins and 2 draws, with the two draws being from positions of strength. I still haven't decided if it better to draw from a position of weakness (you saved a half point, but must have been outplayed at some point during the game) versus a position of strength (you lost a half point, but must have played well to reach that point. In any case, I probably should have been clear first, as I really let a half slip away in round 4. With White against Leszek Plaskota, I reached the following position after my 39th move (Ke2-d3).
White has a clear advantage here because of his two bishops, the weak d-pawn, and bad Black bishop, but still must come up with a winning plan. We were both close to about 5 minutes left here (sudden death with an increment) and Black now blundered 39...Nb8? on 39...Ne5+ I intended to try to squeeze him with 40.Bxe5+ Kxe5 41.f4+ 40.Bg7 h5 41.Bh6 Nc6 not 41...g4? 42.Bf4+ 42.Bxg5 Ne5+ 43.Ke2 Nc4 44.Bf4+ Kc6 45.Bxc4?! for some reason 45.a4 completely escaped my thought process. After 45...dxc4 I tried to win the opposite colored bishops ending, but he held without too much trouble.
Just a short note to say that I have changed the link to my BCE corrections page. Readers should no longer get hijacked off to another tripod users page. Let me know if this is still not working.
This was a very disappointing game for a couple of reasons. First, Wheeler and Brian Smith played a very quick draw on Board 1, so from the early stages of this game it was known that the winner would tie for first. Second, I lost a game several years ago to Boris Men in almost the identical manner as this one: in the sharp Zaitsev variation of the Benko Gambit, I simply didnít take care of my knight on b5 and let him pile up and win it.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.Nc3 I had beaten Todd twice before in this variation and was interested to see where he was going to deviate this time. 5...axb5 6.e4 b4 7.Nb5 d6 [7... Nxe4 8.Qe2+-] 8.Bf4 In the recent quick chess championship, I tried 8.Bc4 against Todd here, but didn't get much out of the opening. 8...g5 9.Bxg5 Nxe4 10.Bf4 Nf6 10...Bg7 or 10...Qa5 would lead to positions from our other games. 11.Bc4 11.Qe2!? forces the somewhat awkward 11...Ra6, but then White's queen will need to move again to develop the Bf1 11...Bg7 12.Qe2 The start of a bad plan, keeping the d-pawn protected is much more important than guarding the Bc4. If Black plays the maneuver Nb8-d7-b6xc4 White doesn't really want to recapture with his queen exposing it to a potential ...Ba6. So development of the king knight or an immediate rescue operation for the stranded knight with a3 or a4 was called for. 12...0-0 13.Nf3 Nbd7 14.0-0 Nb6 15.Rad1?
Leaving the knight on b5 completely hung out to dry. Better was 15.Rfd1 when Black is better, but White isn't just losing a piece. 15...Nxc4 16.Qxc4 Qd7 17.Rfe1 Ba6 Somehow, in my calculations I thought this could be met by a4, but of course Black just takes en passant. To show how off my form was in this game, even the line I thought Black had to play 17...Ra5 18.a4 Rxa4 19. Ra1 was flawed because of 19...Ba6! I could resign now, but pitch a few pieces at his king before calling it a day. 18.Bg5 Bxb5 19.Qh4 Rfe8 20.Re3 h6 21.Ne5 hxg5 22.Qxg5 Nh7 23.Qh5 dxe5 24.Rg3 Ra6 0:1
I finally made it to Board 1 in the third round, where I faced Jerry Wheeler. Jerry had the only perfect score at this point, so I needed to make some kind of dent in him.
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Bf4 Bg7 4.e3 0-0 4...d6 may be a very slight improvement. Usually, in this system White will play the move h3 at some point so that his dark-square bishop cannot be hunted down by Nh5 Bg5 h6 Bh4 g5. By castling early, Black may be reluctant to move the pawns in front of his king so fast. So, after the text, Jerry tries to do without the move h3. 5.Be2 d6 6.0-0 c5 7.c3 Qb6 8.Qb3 Be6 Niether side fears the doubling of his b-pawns since that will open the a-file for the rook. 9.Qb5 Nc6 I had beaten Leonard Dickerson in a game at the Knoxville club after the move Qxb6 (except that White had played h3 instead of 0-0) and as a result wanted to play the position with doubled pawns. So now I undertake a slow maneuver to force White to double my pawns. Instead it was better to pick off the Bf4 with 9...Qxb5 10.Bxb5 Nh5 when Black should have a small edge. 10.h3 Preserving the bishop, which can now retreat to h2 10...Nd5 11.Bg3 Better than the mechanical 11.Bh2 since the Bishop could potentially come to h4 now. 11...Nc7 12.Qxb6 axb6 13.a3 Na5 Comparing this position to the one that could have occured if White had traded Queens, the big difference is the position of the Black knight on c7 instead of f6. The knight is much worse on c7 where it does not fight for the e4 square and doesn't really support the move b5 which can be answered by dxc5 when the knight is loose. Finally, from f6 the knight could move to d7 to defend the pawn on b6. As we shall see this is a vulnerable point in the Black position. 14.Nbd2 Nb3 15.Nxb3 Bxb3 16.Nd2 Bd5 To prevent Bf3 pressuring b7. 17.Rad1 Bc6 18.Rfe1 Bb5 19.Nc4 Ra6 20.e4 Rc8 I could not calculate the consequences of [20... cxd4 21.cxd4 Ne6 22.e5 (22.d5 Nc5) 22... d5 23.Ne3 Bxe2 24.Rxe2 Rd8] when both d-pawns are weak, Black has double isolated b-pawns and an awkward rook on a6, but White has a bad bishop and no entry along the c-file. This line was probably better than the text since Jerry now finds an energetic breakthrough 21.d5 Bxc4 22.Bxc4 b5 23.Be2 Ra4 24.Bg4 Rd8 25.e5 dxe5 26.Bxe5 Bxe5 [26... Nxd5 27.Bc7] 27.Rxe5 Kf8 28.d6! Black would be much better if allowed to play the blockading Rd6 28...Rxd6 29.Rxc5 Rxd1+ 30.Bxd1 Rc4
31.Re5 White should win with 31.Rxc4 bxc4 32.Be2 b5 33.a4 bxa4 (Black could try for tricks like 33... Nd5 34.axb5 Nb6 35.Bd1 e6 36.b3 Ke7 37.bxc4 Nxc4 with chances to hold with the blockade, but White can knockout this idea with 34.a5!) 34.Bxc4 e6 35.Be2 Nd5 36.Bb5 Nb6 37.c4+- however, psychologically it is hard to undouble the Black pawns. 31...f6 32.Re3 e6 33.Rd3 Ke7 34.Be2 b6 35.Rd2 Rc6 36.Rd4 Rd6 37.Rb4 Rd5 38.Kf1 Kd6 39.a4
This wins a pawn, but lets Black's rook become active. Probably better is the patient 39.Ke1. Then, Black can use the King in the defense with 39...Kc5 and though it is not clear how White will break through, Black must just sit and wait and is still straddled with weak pawns. Another try is 39.c4 when the attempt to transpose to the game with 39...bxc4 40.Rxb6+ Kc5 41.Rb4 c3 is foiled by 42.Rc4+ and 41...Rd4 is strongly met by 42.Ke1 when Black can hardly move. However, Black has the resource 39...Rd4 intending Kc5 and Black is better here. 39...bxa4 40.Rxb6+ Kc5 41.Rb4 a3 In return for the pawn, White's pawn structure is damaged and the Black rook finds a home on the seventh rank. Plus, black's big weakness (the doubled b-pawns) are a thing of the past 42.bxa3 Rd2 43.a4 Rc2 44.Rc4+ Kd6 45.Bd3 During the game I was more worried about [45.Bf3 Nd5 46.Ke1 Nxc3 (46... Rxc3 47.Bxd5) 47.a5! (47.Be4 Re2+) when the Black pieces are paralyzed]. Instead, it looks like Black must try 46...e5 when White must still find a way to make progress. I think Black should hold the rook ending after 47.Bxd5 45...Ra2 46.Rd4+ Nd5 47.Bb5 [47.c4 Kc5] 47...e5 [47... Ke5!?] 48.Rd1 Kc5 49.Rc1 Nb6 50.Rd1 1/2:1/2
I'll take a timeout from the annotations of my Tennessee 2000 games for editorial Tuesday, which I skipped last week. I wanted to take a few paragraphs and thank Yasser Seirawan for all he has done for American chess. I remember me and Billy Colias rooting for him at the 1980 World Open. Here was a guy not too much older than us going head to head with the top dogs on the stage. (We also thought he dressed cool with bell bottom jeans that had a white stripe on the side that was real small at the top and then flared out to cover the whole bottom, but what kind of fashion sense do expect from a couple of eighth grade boys 8-)
Yaz has always been one of the top players in the US: several time US Champion and Candidate for the World Championship, back when there was such a thing as the Candidates cycle. GM Seirawan was the first (and maybe still the only?) American player to defeat the reigning world champion in a tournament game (Seirawan 1-0 Karpov, London 1982 and Seirawan 1-0 Kasparov, Dubai 1986). He is still the highest rated US player on the FIDE rating list (#37 in May).
Yasser was also the founder of one of the best US chess periodicals, Inside Chess. Although the magazine no longer appears in print, the online version still maintains the highest standards. Inside Chess has recently struck a partnership with the online service chess.net, which is my prefered site for online play.
This year Yasser has also managed to pull the jewel of American chess events, the US Championship, back from the dead. The USCF was going to let this event die, but Yasser managed to find the financial backing for the event, which will be held in his hometown Seattle later this year. It looks like this organization may sponsor the championship for a few years to come, which is a welcome light in the often dreary US chess scene.
Seirawan has always told it like he sees it in his editorials, and I really admire him for that. I felt his recent open letter to FIDE was a much needed calling to task of all the problems that have plagued FIDE in recent years. Although, GM Valery Salov disagrees I thought Seirawan's letter told it like it was. Almost everything FIDE has touched recently has been negative. They've managed to alienate both Kasparov and Karpov. Many feel Kamsky withdrew from chess because of FIDE. Former FIDE Women's Champion Susan Polgar is suing FIDE for the way they treated and stripped her title. The men's World Championship title has become somewhat of a joke in the chess community (although no one takes anything away from GM Khalifman's performance). The Las Vegas tournament had its fair share of problems, it was delayed several times, boycotted by some prominent players, had practically no spectators (I know this since I was one of the few), and was very late in paying the prizes. This years final is scheduled for Tehran, which is bound to raise another hulabaloo. FIDE has also bungled attempts at commercialization of the game including a ludicrous attempt to copyright game scores. FIDE finally banned computers from FIDE-rated events, but only after the Dutch Championship fiasco. The rating system itself is even under a cloud because of probable manipulation by Burmese players. Seirawan touches on all of this in his letter, and basically just asks that FIDE change its ways. I'm behind that all the way. Keep fighting the good fight, Yaz
I bounced back in the 2nd round against Greg Hoffman. I found a way to force him to create bad weaknesses early in the middle game, which led him to try an exchange sacrifice. He really had nothing, but one small slip by me made it look like he was getting somewhere. But it turned out to be OK for me as his weak back rank allowed me to win a piece.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.g3 0-0 5.Bg2 c5 6.Nf3 cxd4 7.Nxd4 Nc6 8.0-0 a6 Through transposition from the Nimzo-Indian Defense, a typical position from the English Opening has been reached. White does not fear an exchange on c3 because Black would then be very weak on the dark squares especially at d6. I was debating where to develop my queen bishop: e3, f4 or g5. A finally decided on the semi-waiting move 9.h3 which, if I decided to develop my bishop to e3, would prevent the harassing ...Ng4 9.h3 ECO quotes an old Portisch game with 9. Nc2 leading to clear White advantage. The move with the best pedigree is 9. Bf4, which has been played by Garry Kasparov. 9...Qc7 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Rc1 b6?! This move weakens the long diagonal. Better was 11...d6 12.Bf4 e5 Severely weakening d5, but Black's pieces are completely discoordinated after 12...Qb7. 13.Nf5!
13...exf4 Preparing to sacrifice the exchange. After 13...Re8 14. Bg5 followed by Bxf6 White would have a large advantage since Black lacks sufficient minor pieces to guard the hole on d5. [13... Bb7 14.Nxe7+ Nxe7 15.Bxb7 Qxb7 16.Bxe5] 14.Nxe7+ Nxe7 Practically forced since 14...Kh8 15. Ned5 wins the pawn on f4 while Black still has numerous weaknesses (d5, d6, b6). 15.Bxa8 fxg3 16.Bg2 gxf2+ 17.Rxf2 Ng6 18.Qd4 Nh5 19.Nd5 Qd8 [19... Qe5 20.Qxe5 Nxe5 21.Rf5] 20.Qg4 Qh4 [20... Nf6 21.Nxf6+ gxf6 22.Qd4 Ne5 23.Rcf1 Kg7 24.Rxf6+-] 21.Nxb6 Much simpler is 21. Qxh4 Nxh4 22. Nxb6 21...Qxg4 22.hxg4 Nf6 23.g5 Ng4 24.Rf3 Bb7 25.Rg3 Nf4 Suddenly, Black is getting a lot more play than he deserved. However, I was able to calculate a long combination to win. 26.Rxg4 Nxe2+ 27.Kf1 Nxc1 [27... Bxg2+ 28.Kxe2+-] 28.Bxb7 Rb8 29.Re4!
Black's back rank spells his doom. White now threatens simply Nxd7, so Black needs to make luft. Which pawn should he choose? 29...g6 [29... h6 30.g6! fxg6 31.Bd5+ Kh7 32.Nxd7 Rd8 33.Re7 ; 29... f5 30.Bd5+ Kh8 31.Nxd7 in both variations White's c-pawn will be much faster than Black's kingside pawns] 30.Nxd7 Rxb7 31.Nf6+ Kg7 32.Re8 1:0
I got off to a bit of a rocky start in this tournament. In a complicated middlegame position, I played a passive retreat, which led to a difficult ending. Near the time control, I blundered into a lost position. Somehow, I managed to survive the worst and was finally able to hold a pawn down queen ending without much trouble.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Garry Kasparov's success with this move has revitalized this complex line 6...Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Qb4+ This move is less common, but probably no worse than the more usual 8...Ba6 9.Nd2 Nf4 10.Qe4 Ne6 11.Be2 Bb7 Another plan is 11...a5 intending ...a4 to stop White from expanding with pawns on the queenside. 12.0-0 c5 13.Qe3 Nd4 14.Bd3 0-0-0 In the game Grosar-Gabriel Portoroz 1993, the future German GM played 14...Qb6 15.Nb3 Qb6 I think 15...Nxb3 16.axb3 Qb6 or 16...Qxb3 17.Rxa7 Qb6 is playable, but why open the a-file for White's rook? 16.Bd2 f6 17.Na5 Ba8 It still isn't clear to me that Black needs to preserve this bishop. The exchange of the white knight for the light squared bishop leaves White with one less piece to challenge the powerful knight on d4, so perhaps 17...fxe5 deserves consideration. 18.Rab1 fxe5 19.Be4
19...Nc6 After this move, White takes over the initiative. The knight d4 is the pride of the Black position, so it doesn't make much sense to retreat it. Best may be the odd looking move 19...c6!? While this move makes the Ba8 horrible, Black intends ...d5 with great control of the center and suddenly the Na5 looks somewhat out of place. 20.Qa3 Nxa5 21.Bxa5 Qb8 22.Bxa8 Qxa8 23.b4 Qc6 24.Rb2 cxb4 25.Bxb4 Bxb4 26.Rxb4 Better than 27.Qxb4 d6 when Black is ready to coordinate his forces with Kd7. 26...d6 27.Qh3+! Much better than the materialistic 27.Qxa7 Kd7 when Black is fine. Now Black's position becomes contorted and the White pieces become active. 27...Qd7 28.Qf3 Qe6 29.Qc6 Qe8 30.Qd5 Kd7 31.Rb7 Rc8 [31... Qe6?? 32.Rxc7+-] 32.Rxa7 Qe6 33.Qb5+ Ke7 34.a4 Rhf8 35.Qc6 35.a5 may put Black under more pressure than the text 35...Qd7 36.Qe4 g6 37.c5 Rf4 38.Qe3 Rxa4?
Black gets too fancy for his own good. After 38...Kf6, White is still better, but Black is fighting. 39.cxd6+ Kf6 40.Rxa4 Qxa4 Black has some tricks here, like 41.Rc1 Rd8, but 41.Qf3+ would cover d1 41.Qh3 Rf8 42.dxc7 Qc6 [42... Qc4 43.Qd7+-] 43.Qxh7 [43.Qh4+ Kg7 44.Qd8+-] 43...Rc8 44.Qh4+ [44.f4 exf4 (a) 44... e4 45.f5+- ; b) 44... Rxc7 45.Qh8+-) 45.Rxf4+ Ke5 46.Rf1 White has a big advantage because of the exposed Black King] 44...Kf7 45.Qg3 With 45.Qh7+ white could transpose to the previous note. 45...Qxc7 Finally a chance to catch my breath. Black now has some drawing chances because all the pawns are on the same side. It seems pretty clear that Black has to exchange either the queens or the rooks so that he doesn't have to worry about his king, but which pieces should be traded? I think Black has the best drawing chances in the rook ending. I did manage to win the rook ending with f+g+h pawns vs. e+g pawns earlier this year against Ben Bentrup in the North Tennessee Regional Open, but in that game my rook was much more actively placed than White's is here. One problem with seeking that ending is that White can usually avoid the trade of queens (as in fact he does). So after a few unsuccessful attempts to trade queens I go for the rook swap. 46.h3 Qc3 47.Qg4 Rc7 48.Rd1 Qc6 49.Qh4 Kg7 50.Qg5 Qf6 51.Qe3 Qf4 52.Qb6 Rc1 53.Rxc1 Qxc1+ 54.Kh2 Qf4+ 55.g3 Qf3 56.Qe3 Qd5 57.g4 Kh7 58.Kg3 Qa5 59.Qd3 Qc7 60.Qe4 Qc3+ 61.Kg2 Qc5 62.h4 Kg7 63.h5
I think this move is a mistake. White should probably play 63.g5 to give his queen an outpost on f6, then try to find a way to bring his King into play. It was probably even better to try to activate the King before pushing the kingside pawns at all, since there is no rush, Black can only wait and react. 63...gxh5 64.gxh5 Qd6 65.Kg3 Kh6 Now the h-pawn is a weakness and the White King is more exposed to perpetual check. 66.Qf5 Qa3+ 67.Kg4 Qb4+ 68.Kg3 Qa3+ 69.Qf3 Now White has nothing. After 69.f3 Qd6 he could at least try to torture Black a bit longer, but I don't think he can make any progress. 69...Qxf3+ 70.Kxf3 Kxh5 71.Ke4 Kg4! 72.f3+ Kg3 73.Kxe5 1/2:1/2
I played in the "Tennessee 2000" tournament this past weekend. It was a grand prix event only open to players who are rated over 2000 or juniors rated over 1800 or players who had ever been so rated. Despite the title, it was open to all states, not just Tennessee. I was ranked second in the 16 player field, but finished with a disappointing 2-2 score. I had a chance to tie for first, but lost badly in the final round to Todd Andrews. I was kind of disgusted with that game since I had lost a similar game to Boris Men several years ago.
The Nashville Chess Center hosted the event. It ran pretty smoothly except for short power failures at the beginning of each of the morning rounds. The central air conditioning was nice. Hopefully, with their planned renovations this summer, the Chess Center will be able to host larger events (to this point they have been limited to 40 players). The pairings were done with the PairPlus program, which had its usual problems, but no one seemed to complain too loudly. I guess with the small number of players, we figured all the top players would play each other anyway.
The organizer has asked for annotated games, so I'm going to post mine on this page over the next week. This should be a welcome change from May, when I didn't post any annotations.
Here is the solution to the puzzle posed on 5/15/00.
As I mentioned, GAMES magazine had a set of these in their latest issue. Since then, I found the homepage of the creator, Erich Friedman. Check it out for more puzzles of this type or more traditional chess problems.
May 2000 Archive
April 2000 Archive
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